Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) has submitted a verbal resignation in the wake of the Taroko Express No. 408 train crash two days ago, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said yesterday.
In a call, Lin told Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) that he wished to step down, to take responsibility for the deadliest accident involving a Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) train in 40 years.
As of press time last night, the Hualien District Prosecutors’ Office had revised the death toll from 51, which had been reported on the previous day, to 50, after DNA testing showed that what had been considered two sets of remains belonged to the same person.
Photo: Wang Chun-chi, Taipei Times
According to Lo, Su commended Lin for wanting to take responsibility, but said that the focus right now is on repairing the railway line damaged in the incident on Friday last week.
Properly dealing with issues in the aftermath of a tragedy is also a way of taking responsibility, Su told the minister, and he declined to discuss the offer at this time, Lo added.
Separately yesterday, Presidential Office spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said that while President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) approved of Lin’s conscientiousness, she thought that now was not the time to discuss a resignation.
Earlier yesterday, Lin had told reporters that he would “shoulder the responsibility of keeping damage from the accident to a minimum.”
Lin said that he would not shirk his duty and would take the required actions after rescue and repair efforts were completed.
Asked whether he had submitted a formal resignation, Lin would only say that his priority was to minimize the damage caused by the crash.
The accident occurred on Friday at 9:28am, when a southbound Taroko Express train slammed into a crane truck on the tracks near the entrance to the Cingshuei Tunnel (清水隧道) in Hualien County before crashing into the tunnel wall.
The TRA and the ministry, which oversees the agency, are facing scrutiny over a number of issues, such as the lack of proper fencing along the track and the possibility of having sold too many standing-only tickets.
Since former TRA director-general Chang Chen-yuan (張政源) retired in January, the agency has been without a permanent director. The position is being filled in an acting capacity by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chi Wen-chung (祈文中).
On Saturday, Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材), another deputy minister of transportation and communications, said that Lin was working hard to find the right person to fill the job.
Lin and Chi are scheduled to report to lawmakers about the incident at a legislative hearing on Wednesday.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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